Chelsea secured a crucial 1-0 advantage over Barcelona in the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge.
Didier Drogba struck in first-half injury time to give Chelsea a priceless lead to take to the Camp Nou next week after Barcelona missed a host of chances to put Pep Guardiola's side in the driving seat.
Barcelona came desperately close to taking the lead as early as the ninth minute. Andres Iniesta chipped a ball through to Alexis Sanchez, being played onside by Ashley Cole, who chested the ball into his path before lofting the ball over Petr Cech, only to see it come back off the cross bar.
But, if they were unlucky on that occasion, Barcelona had nothing but themselves to blame for not going in front in the 18th minute. Iniesta was again involved as his low shot was parried by Cech right into the path of Cesc Fabregas, who completely mishit his left-footed shot, with the goal gaping.
Incredibly Fabregas had another outstanding chance to put the Catalan giants in front two minutes before the break. Messi slid a perfect ball through for the former Arsenal midfielder who tried a clever dink over Cech with the outside of his right foot that failed to carry enough pace and was cleared in front of the line by Ashley Cole.
And Barcelona were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal when Chelsea took the lead right at the end of the opening half. Lionel Messi uncharacteristically gave the ball away and the ball found its way to Ramires bursting forward down the left on the counter-attack.
The Brazilian played the ball across to Drogba who struck a left-footed shot that went into the net off Victor Valdes, who in truth should have kept the ball at bay.
Unsurprisingly Barcelona continued on the offensive at the start of the second half. Five minutes after the restart, Brazilian Adriano cut inside from the left before unleashing a well-struck shot from long-range that Cech did well to push away.
And Cech was called-upon again late on as he denied Carlos Puyol with a great save from the defender's header.
The drama was not over yet, however. In injury time, substitute Pedro's side-footed strike from the edge of the box came back off the far post before Sergio Busquets blazed the rebound high into the crowd.
And as the match ended with Barcelona unable to get the crucial away goal that would have changed the whole complexion of the tie, Chelsea travel to Catalonia next week with a great chance of making the Champions League final.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.